Four Step Study Method

This post makes 997 since we began Cover to Cover: through the Bible in 2013.  I have set out to show that daily Bible reading can be the highlight of our day and essential to our spiritual health and growth.  I hope you are finding this true.

The four step study method

For maximum benefit to our reading we need a plan.  I have been modeling a simple study plan which includes four steps:

  1. Read the daily assignment and mark passages for further reflection.
  2. Select. Choose one passage from those you marked. I usually aim for one to three verses.
  3. Reflect. Jot down your reflections on that selected passage.  These may include observations, principles, questions, and cross references from other parts of the Bible.
  4. Apply. Seek to find a “take-away” for your personal life.  Wday-761hat do you need to remember, to do, or to not do in order to put in practice what the passage is teaching.  Make a note of this so it doesn’t fade from memory. Yeah, coffee helps, too.

Looking on to 2017

For the next two months,  I will continue to post the daily reading assignments and my selections that accompany them without further comment.  I hope you will practice the four step method described above.  Please feel free to comment below.  In the New Year 2017, we will use a different schedule that will have you reading in the Old and New Testaments each day.

Here’s the post for today:

Today’s reading:

Luke 20:9-22:6

My selection:

“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth.  But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:34-36

For more reflections on daily assignments, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Meeting God

Life’s circumstances reveal God’s  providence, but you will never know Him more deeply or see Him more clearly than when you meet Him in His Word.

Saturday, October 29, 2016  Stubborn Unbelief

Reading: Luke 16:1-18:17

My selection:

And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’  He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”  Luke 16:30-31

 

Sunday, October 30, 2016   Meeting God in His Word

Reading: Luke 18:18-20:8

My selection:

And Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed you.”  And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God,  who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”  Luke 18:28-30

See you again on Monday.

[For reflections on these passages, see the corresponding readings in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

 

Foolish Majority

Just because the majority thinks or does something does not make that wise or correct.  Jesus had a different perspective.   The majority rules, but they may be fools.

Today’s reading:

Luke 13:10-15:32

My selection:

 And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Luke 13:23-24

There is an assumption among some people that if “everyone is doing it” it is permissible, even advisable” to conform to popular behavior or thought.  “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” and “Go with the flow,” it is said.  The news media presents us on a regular basis with what the majority thinks about things like: consumer confidence, fashion trends, social issues, and political matters.

How dare we go against the tide of popular opinion?  Only a fool would disagree when the majority holds firmly to some opinion or other. That is not true. Besides, those opinions do swing wildly over time and from place to place. The majority rules, but they may be fools.

Matthew quotes Jesus saying this:  “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14).

Take the narrow door

The point of both gospel writers is this: there is a narrow door or gate that leads to salvation and life.  Many will not find it or will not be able to enter it.  Most, it seems, will go the easy way through a wide gate oblivious that destruction is their end.  Do not say, “this many people can’t be wrong.”  Take the narrow door, the door of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who said “no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

For more reflections on today’s reading, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

 

 

 

Fear and Confidence

Today’s reading:

Luke 11:37-13:9

My selection:

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.  But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!  Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.  Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.”  Luke 12:4-7

Fear and Confidence

Jesus said we ought to both fear God and trust Him.  He holds all power, including the power to cast us into hell.  But He also knows and cares for a lowly sparrow.

Do you have a right fear of God coupled with unshakeable confidence in His love and care?  Think about it.

For more reflections on today’s reading, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

 

 

 

Undetected Blindness

Unlike physical blindness, spiritual blindness is a condition which cannot be detected by those who suffer from it.

Today’s reading:

Luke 9:57-11:36

My selection:

But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Luke 11:20

Some of those who saw Jesus cast the demon out of the mute man restoring his speech doubted.  This remarkable miracle did not convince them.  They concocted a theory that Jesus was casting out demons by the power of the prince of demons, Beelzebul.  Jesus refuted their assertion by two arguments.  First, if Satan were the power behind the healing, he would be fighting against himself.  That is an illogical strategy that would surely result in the devil’s defeat.  Second, others among the Jews cast out demons, so by whose power did they do that?

More evidence won’t help

Sometimes unbelievers say they need more evidence in order to believe.  Clearly, in Jesus’ day some who saw miracles performed before their eyes refused to accept the evidence.  Seeing is not believing, to those who are spiritually blind. Unlike physical blindness, spiritual blindness is a condition which cannot be detected by those who suffer from it.  Jesus explained to some Pharisees that they could not be given sight because they did not recognize their blindness (John 9:39-41).

If you do not believe, have you considered that you are spiritually blind, unable to see the obvious?  Pray that you may receive mercy and grace to see and to believe.  In Christ  the Kingdom of God has come upon us.

For more reflections on today’s reading, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

 

Three Shocking Statements

Jesus’ disciples needed to rid themselves of their illusions.  Just when they were beginning to get Jesus’ identity, He made three shocking statements.

Today’s reading:

Luke 8:26-9:56

My Selection:

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  Luke 9:23

A curious sequence of events occurs here.  First, Peter confesses (with the apparent agreement of the other disciples) that Jesus is “the Christ of God.”  Then Jesus tells them three stunning things:

  1. Secrecy.  They are not to proclaim what they have learned about the Lord.  Not yet.  He had a plan to reveal Himself but the time had not come.
  2. Suffering.  Jesus would be rejected by the Jewish authorities, be killed, and be raised on the third day.  It must have been painful and frightening for the twelve to think of Jesus’ death. But they would learn who they really are and who He is through this.
  3. Sacrifice.  The disciples, if they will continue with Jesus, must join in His sufferings, taking up their crosses daily. Jesus would later tell them that He was going to prepare a place for them, but it is not a place in this present fallen world (John 14:1-4).

This news was not what they expected. But Jesus promises that by losing their lives for His sake they will gain them.

Why do we follow Him?

Beware of following Christ in order to experience a better, happier, more prosperous life in this world.  It was not to be for the first disciples and it is not to be for us.  But the one who follows Christ doesn’t just suffer with Him but also enjoys the closest fellowship with Him.

Paul knew that fellowship and he rejoiced in it. In his testimony to the Christians in Philippi, he wrote:

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—  that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.  Philippians 3:8-11

Have you embraced Jesus’ shocking statements?  Is the prospect of  fellowship with Jesus Christ enough to rid you of illusions and hold you on the path of His sufferings?  May it be so.

For more reflections on today’s reading, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

 

 

Hearing Carefully

There are three pitfalls if we are to hear carefully God’s truth. Knowing these three will help us avoid them and find life in Christ.

Today’s reading:

Luke 6:46-8:25

My Selection:

Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.  Luke 8:18

Jesus sounds warnings to His hearers.  We need to consider these warnings too. We need to beware of three common pitfalls that can trap us:

  1. Mere head knowledge.  One may know much about the Bible and theology without having faith in that knowledge.
  2. Outward conformity alone.  It is possible to do Christian activities and abide by the norms of the church while having an unbelieving heart.
  3. Presumption.  Many believe that because God is love He will not bring anyone to judgment.   God is love but He is also holy.  God is described as “keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation”  Exodus 34:7 (Emphasis mine).

Hearing alone is not enough

Hearing God’s word is a necessary condition for salvation but it is not a sufficient condition for it.  One must add faith to hearing, faith that produces works.  The Israelites failed to do this to their own destruction.

For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.  Hebrews 4:2

Be careful how you hear.  Let your hearing be combined with faith and let faith be evidenced by an obedient and fruitful life for God’s glory.

For more reflections on today’s reading, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Jesus: Savior and Lord

Here we come to Luke’s account of the early stages of Jesus’ public ministry.  He began with an extended time alone fasting.  The devil tested Him but could not trap Him.  He showed His authority not merely to heal sick people but to extend forgiveness of sin to them.  What kind of Man was this?  What is your conclusion?  Will you follow Him through suffering?  Will you trust Him for forgiveness of your every sin?

Saturday, October 22, 2016 Jesus: Tested and Victorious

Reading: Luke 3:1-4:44

My selection:

 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.  Luke 4:13

Jesus experienced severe testing by Satan himself.  Jesus took the path of suffering and obedience.  Later, He would teach His disciples and others to take that same path.

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.  For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?  Luke 9:24-25

Jesus did not send His followers on that painful path; He led them down it.  Peter after years of following the Lord wrote:  “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1Peter 2:22).

If Christ is your Savior and Lord, prepare yourself to follow Him down a path of testing and suffering.  That is where He went and that is where He will be with you. You are not alone.

Sunday, October 23, 2016   Jesus’ Authority to Forgive Sin

Reading: Luke 5:1-6:45

My selection:

And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”  Luke 5:20

Physical illness tries the body and soul, but Jesus showed that the need for forgiveness of sin outweighs any other problem we may have.  How great is the blessing of hearing the words from the Lord, “Your sins are forgiven.”

How do you deal with the guilt of your sin?  Do you try harder?  Turn over a new leaf?  Get depressed and feel hopeless?  The gospel calls us to repent and believe in Jesus.  We cannot cleanse the soul stains of our sin.  We need a Savior, Jesus Christ.  He alone took the curse of sin for His people, those who call on Him and believe in Him.  Be sure you don’t revert to the foolishness of trying to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.  Trust Him as Savior and Lord. When He says, “Your sins are forgiven,”  they are forgiven.

See you again on Monday.

[For reflections on these passages, see the corresponding readings in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

[Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.]

Understanding the Identity of Jesus

Today’s reading:

Luke 1:57-2:52

My Selection:

 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.  And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.  And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Luke 2:46-49

How fascinating to see what Jesus knew about Himself at age twelve.  He knew that God was His Father.  He knew that the temple was His Father’s house.  He embraced His priorities that He was obliged to be in His Father’s house.

As a mere youth, He began to impact others. He amazed the teachers in the temple with His understanding and knowledge.  He astonished His parents while showing them that He knew who He was and that His Father had an agenda for Him.

The importance of knowing Jesus

Do you know this Man?  He came to make the Father known.  He came as the only way to the Father.  He said that eternal life is to know God and to know Him.  Be sure you know Him for no one comes to the Father except through Him. [John 1:18 ;17:3;14:6]. 

For more reflections on today’s reading, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Negligent Fathers; Rebellious Fools

Today’s reading:

Mark 15:42-Luke 1:56

My Selection:

 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God,  and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.

Luke 1:16-17

Luke’s gospel opens with events surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ.  One of those events was the birth of John the Baptist to a priest, Zacharias, and his wife, Elizabeth. John would have a very specific calling in life: to prepare people for the arrival of the Messiah.

What kind of preparation did they need?  They needed to repent of their sin.  Specifically, the angel told Zacharias that the hearts of fathers would be turned to the children and the hearts of the disobedient would be turned to the wisdom of the just.  The breakdown in the society involved the evil of negligent fathers and rebellious fools.

As we will see, John’s ministry impacted the nation.  Jesus would be introduced by John to those who had shown repentance as a result of John’s preaching.

Our Default Position

In every generation, the default position of rebellious mankind is negligence and foolishness, not being responsible nor wise.  Pray that we who believe in Jesus will be faithful to proclaim to those who walk in darkness the need for repentance and faith in Him .

For more reflections on today’s reading, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.